Chicken feet are commonly used in Asian and Mexican cooking, but here in America—yes, even in Arkansas—we tend to shy away from parts of the animal that are used for walking, eating, or for vital processes of the animal. Feet, tongues, and intestines are rarely used and if they are, we prefer not to know or think about it.
When I was first introduced to the idea of using chicken feet for stock I was a little scared. I imagined a soup with this scaly, clawed foot that I would have to pick up and gnaw on. Um…no thanks!
Don’t worry! We will be easing into the use of feet in our food and we will just be using them to make a delicious, collagen enriched, gelatinous stock. Once the stock is made you can discard the feet or feed them to your favorite pet. If you are worried about your family, especially children, not reacting well to the use of chicken feet, just keep that information to yourself.
Chicken feet are actually an excellent source of collagen. Collagen is thought to improve skin health, help improve blood flow, and even give your metabolism a boost.
Besides the possible health implications, using chicken feet is important because it helps ensure that the entire animal is put to good use with no part wasted. The broth is rich, silky and delicious.
Cleaning the Feet
Back in the “old days,” the chicken feet were most likely rinsed off and thrown in the stockpot as is. I prefer feet that have been cleaned and peeled first. The great news is that the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative cleans and preps the feet before they package them, saving precious time in the kitchen.
Making the Stock
1 pound of chicken feet will typically yield about 1 quart of stock. The Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative sells their chicken feet in packages that are two to 3 pounds in size. Today I am using about 2 pounds of chicken feet.
This stock is excellent for sipping, for use in recipes, and as a base for soup.
CHICKEN FOOT STOCK
Preparation: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 24 Hours
Makes 2 quarts
- 2 – 3 pounds chicken feet
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 4 clove of garlic, whole
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 8 peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- fresh herbs (I used thyme, sage and oregano.)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart of water per pound of chicken feet
- Place all ingredients into a heavy bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Cover the pot and turn the burner to its lowest setting.
- Simmer the stock for at least 24 hours stirring the pot every few hours to help break up the feet and release the collagen.
- After 24 hours, allow the stock to cool slightly before straining through a colander and a piece of cheesecloth and a tea towel.
- Discard the feet and vegetable leavings or feed them to your pets if they are able to handle bones.
- Season the stock to taste with salt.
- Use in your favorite recipe or pour into freezer proof containers. Don’t forget to leave room for expansion as it freezes. The stock freezes well for 6-12 months.
Note: Once your stock cools it may have a gel-like consistency. This is normal. The stock will become smooth and silky when reheated. You may also note that the stock is very dark in color. This is due to the herbs and vegetable added during the cooking process.
One of my favorite ways to use this stock is with a simple recipe that has been served in my family since my great-grandmother was a child. It is simply poured over a scoop of white rice. I can still remember my great-grandmother serving this soup to me when I was small child. Every time I eat it I am flooded with wonderful memories. This soup makes a wonderful appetizer or could be served with a sandwich to make it a full meal.
CHICKEN STOCK WITH RICE
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 quart chicken feet stock
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- green onions, sliced (optional)
- Prepare the rice according to package directions.
- Scoop a 1/2 cup of cooked rice into four bowls using an ice cream scoop.
- Gently pour one cup of hot chicken feet stock into each bowl.
- Season as desired with salt, pepper and sliced green onion.